Benjamin Franklin in London


You are viewing an older version of the Yalebooks website. Please visit out new website with more updated information and a better user experience:

The British Life of America's Founding Father

George Goodwin

View Inside Format: Hardcover
Price: $32.50
Our shopping cart only supports Mozilla Firefox. Please ensure you're using that browser before attempting to purchase.

Also Available in:

Out of Print

An absorbing and enlightening chronicle of the nearly two decades the American statesman, scientist, author, inventor, and Founding Father spent in the British imperial capital of colonial America

For more than one-fifth of his life, Benjamin Franklin lived in London. He dined with prime ministers, members of parliament, even kings, as well as with Britain’s most esteemed intellectuals—including David Hume, Joseph Priestley, and Erasmus Darwin—and with more notorious individuals, such as Francis Dashwood and James Boswell. Having spent eighteen formative months in England as a young man, Franklin returned in 1757 as a colonial representative during the Seven Years’ War, and left abruptly just prior to the outbreak of America’s War of Independence, barely escaping his impending arrest.     
In this fascinating history, George Goodwin gives a colorful account of Franklin’s British years.  The author offers a rich and revealing portrait of one of the most remarkable figures in U.S. history, effectively disputing the commonly held perception of Franklin as an outsider in British politics. It is an enthralling study of an American patriot who was a fiercely loyal British citizen for most of his life—until forces he had sought and failed to control finally made him a reluctant revolutionary at the age of sixty-nine.

George Goodwin is currently author in residence at the Benjamin Franklin House in London and is a 2017 international fellow at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, Monticello. He lives close to London’s Kew Gardens.

“[An] interesting, lively account of Franklin’s British life. . . . A fascinating perspective.”—Jeffrey Collins, Wall Street Journal

“Wonderful . . . to be reminded of a time when America produced great men who revered science, were sceptical towards religion, eagerly studied philosophy and argued with both wit and wisdom.”—Gerard DeGroot, Times (London)

“An engaging and informative account of Franklin’s experiences in the pivotal period before America’s War of Independence.”—Glenn C. Altschuler, Tulsa World

“Goodwin threads Franklin's way among diverse British-American influences with a light, sure touch and fascinating detail. Overall, Franklin is shown as an astute player of men who subscribed to his own Poor Richard saying: ‘Let all Men know thee, but no man know thee thoroughly.’  The British author provides finely textured, subtle shading to a well-known American Founding Father.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The respected British historian and biographer George Goodwin provides us with a thoroughly researched and accessibly written chronicle of that important time of Franklin’s transformation from place-seeking provincial lobbyist to risk-taking revolutionary sparkplug.”—James Srodes, Washington Times

“George Goodwin captures . . . just why Franklin’s contemporaries found him so captivating . . . His narrative moves gracefully from heated confrontations with cabinet ministers to intimate aspects of Franklin’s home life.” —Professor T.H. Breen, Times Literary Supplement

“A sensitive, moving, and finely textured account.”—Colin Kidd, Guardian

“There are three Benjamin Franklins: the American, the British and the French. The first and the last are famous, the second forgotten. . . The British Franklin, the subject of this fascinating and detailed biography by George Goodwin, may well be the real Franklin. . . The legend of the ‘first American’ has obscured the story of the last of a particular kind of Briton. George Goodwin’s vividly detailed account presents Franklin as a scientific, sociable Londoner. It was Britain’s loss he could not remain one.”—Dominic Green, Literary Review

“In this fascinating history, George Goodwin gives a colorful account of Franklin’s British years.”—Smithsonian Magazine

“An enthralling biography.”—BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week

“Elegantly written, it serves as an enjoyable introduction to Franklin’s time in the imperial metropolis.”—John Brewer, New York Review of Books

Benjamin Franklin in London offers a detailed and well-researched narrative of how Franklin’s time in the metropole shaped his ultimate decision to support independence.”—Nathan R. Kozuskanich, New England Quarterly

“Goodwin reveals a sensitivity to a range of perspectives on his topic that few biographies designed for general readers possess. . . . Goodwin does an exemplary job of bringing fresh insight to Franklin’s years during all three periods of his stay in London.”—Carla J. Mulford, Early American Literature
ISBN: 9780300220247
Publication Date: February 29, 2016
400 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
16 b/w illus.

Sales Restrictions: For sale in North America only